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For more witty banter like the above, you should really be going to http://www.drewbeatty.com

Why? Because that is the new hotness. Yes, that is where I will be dropping loads of pearls of words of letters, like the ones above, and below, but there I will use my “A” material, unlike the tired slang from yesteryear that adorns these pages.

So, http://www.drewbeatty.com . It’s a happy place, a place for you and me, to learn, and grow, together. See you there!

Here is Talking with Tots, episode two. It’s a little bit longer, and Tarquin was in a tiny bit of a contradictory mood for the recording, but nevertheless, here it is:

 Download Here!

So, as if I don’t have enough to do these days, I decided a great idea would be to record conversations with my children, Tarquin, aged two years, and Ephraim, aged 8 months. Tarquin enjoyed the process immensely, and insisted on having his own microphone. After finding an old one I no longer use, we were able to continue the recording session. Tarquin then ran around, interviewing him mom while she was feeding Ephraim. The last thing he said to my while I tucked him in was “Where’s my microphone?”

So, the next generation of podcasters is already working.

The music I used is “To Be an Angel”, from Uncle Seth. They are good people, check them out.

My Great Uncle Cyrill (Cy) Yarnell is an interesting man. Brother of my grandfather, uncle to my mom, he has lived a more interesting life than most men of his generation, and considering the fact that he is 87 years old, that is saying a lot. He was a fighter pilot, fighting in the war in Italy, North Africa, and Germany. He retired in 1975, shortly after I was BORN, but I am fairly certain he is still busier than I am. He travels the world as an ambassador for Canada’s air force, and gives stirring speeches about the role of the military. He is an equitable man, and is not mired in the past. Remembrance day to him is not simply remembering his good old days, but thinking about the here and now, the men and women who still are fighting.

He gave a speech today at my father’s church (yes, my father is an Anglican minister, some people are raising their eyebrows at that), and I was thrilled to be present. I am not a fan of the military-industrial complex, I have concerns over the reasons we go to war, but I am still thankful for people like Cy Yarnell.

The audio quality is not the best, I was just recording from my personal camera. Also, the baby you hear crying on occasion is mine. He is very cute.

Direct Download

Cy Yarnell’s Remembrance Day Speech – St. James Humber Bay, 2007

So, yesterday I caught up with the soulmate to QT’s Death Proof, Planet Terror. While I will not make any effort to deconstruct it in the same way I did Death Proff, I will say this: What a waste of my time. I wnet in with the understanding that this was supposed to be the better, stronger half of the Grindhouse double feature, and I suppose, in a way, it was. The characters were generally more compelling, especially Jeff Fahey and Michael Biehn playing a pair of Texas brothers, one the Sherrif, the other the local BBQ champ wannabe. They brought a spark to the film, even more so when they were sharing screen time. Freddy Rodriguez was also excellent, playing against his Six Feet Under persona as a gunslinging hero type. The movie had a few moments that made me smile, and there was possibly, just possibly a good movie in there somewhere, but it was not realized. It was just really gross. I mean, really, just disgusting.

Again, let me say that I am no stranger to gorey horror film material.  I watched many gross, nasty, bilious films in my day, but this was just really disgusting. Almost unwatchably so. It wasn’t just over the top sicko humour, such as can be found in something like Evil Dead: The Musical, this was just horribly, horribly ill.

Overall, I have wasted almost four hours of my life on Grindhouse, and about ten bucks. That really sucks.

So, as amazing as this might sound considering how long that last post is, I actually had more I wanted to talk about, but I had to edit things down. Also, I was in a bit of a hurry since the season premier of Heroes was on last night, and I didn’t want to miss it.  So, here are some things that I cut out of Psycho VS. Deathproof:

1. I remember in university a professor talking about how amazing it was to be coming of age in the sixties and early seventies, with all the amazing films being made at the time. I wondered then if he was aware that we all felt the same way about the films that we were growing up with. Even today, although I have great respect for all of the groundbreaking work done by the French New Wave, Felini, and all of those amazing directors of that era, I still feel drawn to the films that I came of age with. I imagine the same is true from generation to generation.

2. People might wonder if I just didn’t get the idea behind the “Grindhouse” films. Could I have missed the point? Well, in a word, no. Throughout high school and into university I was a regular host of “B Movie Nights,” in which a group of my friends would get together to watch a variety of substandard films. The quality would range from the outright campy “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” to the surprisingly creepy “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things” and everything in between. Although I didn’t watch these films in their first run at a drive through, I am well versed in the films QT was referencing. I got it, I just didn’t like it.

3. I really wanted to include the phrase “masturbatory, overindulgent piece of dung”, but I just couldn’t fit it in. This would be in reference to Death Proof, not Psycho.

4.  I did want to mention that Zoe Bell, stuntwoman turned actor for this film was a little bit of awesome. She added a spark that was otherwise wholly absent.

I’m sure there are other things I missed, and I hope I didn’t go on too freaking long, but man, that movie just bugged me.

We can now return to the regularly scheduled nonsence that makes up this blog. Occasionally.

So, here is the thing. I spent my formative years watching movies. I worked in a movie theatre, and could see everything I wanted for free, which was awesome. When I went to university, during the early to mid nineties, I was a film major. I spent my days and nights watching, dissecting, and enjoying films.

 Now, the early to mid-nineties were a great renaissance period for films, in my opinion. Offbeat, indie films were in vogue, and auteurs like Jim Jarmusch, the Coen Brothers, and Hal Hartley were making some of the finest films of their careers. Among those directors was Quentin Tarantino, who burst onto the scene with the film Reservoir Dogs. Many of my fellow film students were in awe of this guy; he could do no wrong. Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown solidified his rep, and although there was the odd misstep (Four Rooms comes to mind), he consistently proved to be one of the most watchable directors around. Even Kill Bill, for all its faults (especially the tedious second half) was respectable film-making. Entertaining and visceral, with some amazing action, interesting characters, and enough blood to fill the average suburban swimming pool, Kill Bill did little to tarnish his reputation.

But then came Death Proof. And suddenly the most watchable guy in the room is an embarrassment. It’s not enough that this is a bad film. It’s a terrible film. It is in every way junk filmmaking. Here’s why.

Structurally, the film follows Psycho. Yes, the Alfred Hitchcock film. Also, I suppose, the Gus Van Sant film as well, but that is a subject for another rant. Both films are essentially two acts, with a small middle bridging scene.In Psycho, Hitchcock introduces us into his world through a pair of young lovers, and then focuses on Marion Crane, a woman who steals $40,000 in an attempt to finance a new life. Although the character is, in many ways, morally ambiguous, the audience sympathises with her, she is our mirror in the film. We root for her, feel her pain, understand why she would make such a choice, and feel good that she is on the right track to do the right thing.

And then she is brutally murdered in the shower. Even if you have never seen Psycho, you know what I am talking about. It’s been referenced everywhere.

Now, this is where Hitchcock shows his mastery. The beautiful young woman that we have been emphasizing with for half the film is now dead. Norman Bates cleans up the mess, and drives her car out to a marsh to hide the evidence. He pushes the car into the marsh, and it gets stuck. And the audience is tense, WAITING FOR IT TO SINK INTO THE MARSH! We are suddenly, without noticing it, worried for Norman. Our empathy is now with the tense, nerdy guy that has mother issues. The lovely Marion is forgotten, it’s Norman we are worried about now. Suddenly we are in a new film, almost, but not completely, unconnected to the first half. We no longer are concerned with Marion Crane’s story, but Norman’s, his mother’s. It’s one of the masterful strokes of cinema, and it is one of the reasons that Psycho is hailed as Hitchcock’s best. Even though it helped kick start a genre of slasher films, and one could draw a straight line from Psycho to Halloween, (either the Carpenter, or the Rob Zombie film), it stands as a cinematic masterpiece.

Now, of course, it turns out that Norman is a little nuts, and pretends to be his mother, and kills a bunch of people, but his psychosis is neatly packaged in a little box by Dr. Fred Richmond, in the closing speech. And it’s all over, except for a series of unfortunate sequels in the eighties).

So that is Psycho. Now, here is Death Proof.

In Death Proof, QT introduces us into his world through a group of friends, specifically a group of three or four women who drive around Texas, boring the shit out of the audience. Will they score weed? Who cares. Will they invite boys to the cabin? Who cares. In what order are they going to the restaurants/bars? Who cares. None of the characters are interesting, or even really likeable. If you don’t care about the characters, you don’t care about the film. These women are simply not interesting enough for me to want to spend a lot of time with. One of the most hilarious defences of the indulgent, overlong dialogue scenes in the first half of the movie is that you need to get to know the characters, so it will be more meaningful when they die. Doesn’t work. Okay, so, about halfway through the film, these characters, our entrée into the film, die. They are killed, actually, by the Psycho Villain “Stuntman Mike”, an over the hill stuntman with woman issues, and a death proof car. He is slightly injured, they all die.

Now, in the hospital, we are treated to the scene explaining his psychosis, this time by Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, who, while convinced this was an intentional murder, carried out by a nut job, is more concerned with following sporting events than proving it. Also, he uses the phrase “shot his goo”, in this speech, which I do not recall being used in Psycho.

Next scene, which, for no reason I can think of, is in black and white. Stuntman Mike meets his next group of victims. Suddenly, we are in a totally different movie, aesthetically. The first hour was film and treated to look like a choppy, sweaty 70’s exploitation flick (the Grindhouse films of the title), then there is a little black and white, and then, whammo, the films aesthetics as similar to Kill Bill, or any recent film. Pointless jerking in my opinion. But back to the point.

So, we start the second half of the film, and in a masterful scene, QT changes our perspective to…. Wait, her doesn’t do that at all, he just introduces us to a slightly less boring group of women for Stuntman Mike to threaten. But, he picks on the wrong group, and he gets his ass handed to him, and they maybe even kill him at the end. It’s just a shoddy, shoddy mess of a film, with no plot, logic, or interesting characters. It was a waste of almost two hours of my time. If you are in the video store, looking for something to rent, do yourself a favour, go to the classics section, and grab Psycho. You will be happy you did.



So, every once in a while I take a look at the stats on WTL, just out of curiosity. Generally it is one of the very last things I do before I actually sit down and write something. Procrastination is very healthy, by the way. Usually the numbers are low, but just enough to make the whole deal worthwhile. I don’t intend to make any money here, so page views are not the be all end all, but it’s nice to know I am not shouting into a void.

Every once in awhile, there is an odd quirk, or an interesting stat that comes up. Yesterday, for example, the most popular page was “About the Author,” in which I try to tell the world just how awesome I am, while still sounding like a humble man of the people. Five page views alone, all on one day. I can’t help but wonder, why is that page so popular all of the sudden. Why do five people want to know about me, or conversely, was one person so interested that they read five times? It is just a strange mystery, I guess.

In other news, tomorrow is school, yet again. Sigh.

Here is White Trash Land Chapter 23.

In which the battle is fought, and someone prevails. Tricks are employed, and some visitors arrive at the park.

This is the end of White Trash Land. I hope you enjoyed listening to it.

Andrew Beatty